The NFL Gets It Right For Veterans Day

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Members of the military hold up a large United States flag in honor of Veterans Day before the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens at Georgia Dome on November 11 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

In a world where tributes routinely get a little heavy on the pitch, professional football handles Veterans Day with class.

The NFL does an awful lot of tributes. For a product with such mass appeal as pro football, you would expect that. This weekend, the league will celebrate Veterans Day. Actually, they have the whole month of November marked to honor veterans, kicking off the "Salute To Service" campaign. You would think all the tributes might give fans some fatigue, especially us cynical Generation Xers, but the NFL manages to pull it off without the overpowering smell of marketing or the vaguest hint of politics. 

Wait, cynical about honoring the men and women who serve this country? Not at all. However, paying tribute to military has unfortunately been too often seen as an easy marketing ploy, a responsive cord that nobody can refuse. Even worse, political absolutism conflates honoring the country's troops and patriotism with partisan identity, as though we might be so easily defined by which magnet we attach to the back of our car. 

Professional sports are more popular than ever. Look no further than the television ratings for the NFL and most other sports. The most logical explanation has to do with the recession. People have less money, so they spend more time with less expensive pursuits. Tough to overlook that, but I think it misses something bigger. 

On another level, football and other sports appeal to us because it offers a refuge from the fractious nature of things today. Over the space of a three hour game, we get to rise above the demarcation; we get the chance to connect with part of something bigger, even if it just a football team.

When the NFL opened the season concurrent with the tenth anniversary of 9/11, many wondered whether or not the league could pull off an appropriate tribute. Never in my scant three decades have professional sports offered such a powerful moment of transcendence as it did when the NFL and MLB started back up after a hiatus following the attacks 10 years ago. I never once wondered if the NFL could pull off a remembrance this year. 

Stripping out the gimmicks and the jingoism, the NFL will give Veterans Day a similar treatment; they always do. Being the most popular sport in the country allows the NFL to reach across party lines, ideologies to momentarily unify an audience of tens of millions.  

Of course, the NFL can only do so much. It's up to fans like you and me to take that tribute one step further. Today, less than one percent of the population actually serves in the military. It makes it all too easy for those of us who have not served to forget the sacrifices being made by so few. As for the other 364 days a year, follow the NFL's lead. Think of the sacrifices made by veterans today and from generations past. More importantly, rise above the divisiveness, think of your fellow football fans and commit yourself to being part of the greater good. 

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.